Big Sur Marathon Finalizes New Course

The course is now an “out and back”.

From: Running USA

CARMEL, Calif. – (April 15, 2011) – The unanticipated collapse of California’s scenic Highway One, midway along the Big Sur International Marathon course, prompted a new routing of the 26.2 mile footrace for the Sunday, May 1, 2011 event. After several weeks of meetings, surveying and discussions, the modified course has been finalized for the 26th presentation.

Typically a point-to-point run from Big Sur to Carmel, this year’s race is an “out-and-back” course along Highway One beginning on the Carmel River Bridge near Rio Road, Carmel. The 4,500 registered marathoners, along with 300 marathon team relay participants will head off at 6:45am and eventually be narrowed into the inland lane of Highway One. Immediately following will be the 21 and 9 Miler events. The 10.6 Miler will have already begun at 6:30am with runners and walkers headed north on the ocean side lane of Highway One from their traditional start at Rocky Point Restaurant. The 5K event begins at 7:45am.

“There are many moving parts on race day,” said Wally Kastner, race director. “We’ve had to adjust routes, times and transportation to make this event come together in a very short time frame.” Kastner also cited the need for new positioning of aid stations, relay exchange points and musical groups along the course, which has been accomplished.

The compacted course will now cover 12.1 miles of road with runners headed in two directions along Highway One. The marathoners will turn around just north of the Rocky Creek Bridge, approximately a half mile north of the collapsed road, and return on the ocean side lane, sharing space with the 21 and 10.6 Mile runners and walkers as in previous years. The new course offers exceptional views of the California coastline, showcasing verdant hills, spring wildflowers, rocky shoreline and crashing surf. In order to make the full 26.2 mile distance, marathoners and last leg relay runners will also be routed into Pt. Lobos State Reserve, the jewel of the California State Parks, offering a new addition to the course for this year only.

This year’s modified course was certified by a USATF certifier on April 10 and is rated as a Boston qualifying race. The 5K event is also a USATF-certified course and a Pacific Association Road Grand Prix event, with a $3000 prize purse for PA / USATF members.

Precedence for the out-and-back course was set 13 years ago in 1998 when a similar road collapse occurred near Hurricane Point, just south of Bixby Bridge. Both Hurricane Point and Bixby Bridge are icons of the annual Big Sur International Marathon, but will not be seen in this year’s race.

Though initial response from runners indicated disappointment, the majority of the entrants are positive, upbeat and excited about the “new and different” course. Of the 4,500 registered marathon participants approximately three-quarters are first-timers at the event. The remaining field includes repeat Big Sur veterans, having completed from one to all 25 previously held Big Sur Marathons.

Kastner commends his dedicated volunteer board or “blue jackets” as they’re referred to. “Every committee chair was tasked with coming up with solutions to their particular area. They were given complete freedom to see what needed to be done. We have an experienced team of leaders who are mostly all marathoners. They understand the course, the needs and the importance of executing a top level marathon.”

“We’re known for our race organization, and have been rated as one of the country’s top three marathons,” continued Kastner. “We have a strong reputation to uphold.”

For more race information, go to: bsim.org.

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